This week's happy hour stop was at Lincoln, a restaurant on North Williams Ave. in North Portland. We went with some friends on Friday evening, so everyone was truly in the happy hour frame of mind. Right off the bat, I'd have to say that Lincoln's menu items are a little more ambitious than some of the pizza and taco-centric happy hours we've been to in recent weeks. Not to say that's good or bad, but you're going to be eating something closer to rabbit-liver fois gras or pancetta and romesco with fontina cheese than meatball sliders or brick oven pizza.
Located on the up and coming strip of restaurants, shops, and bars north of Fremont on N. Williams, Lincoln exudes a classy atmosphere when you first walk in. It is warmly and dimly lit, with a modern simplicity to the interior fixtures. The bar made a nice impression visually, and all of the staff looked very dapper in their black on black attire. It wasn't very busy when we arrived, but it wasn't empty either. Fashionably late, of course, the rest of our group was already seated when we got there. We sat right down and got to work breaking down the happy hour menu. Happy hour is from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
There are a variety of choices on the menu ranging in price from $3 - $10 and ranging in complexity from toasted bread to the aforementioned rabbit liver mousse. My curiosity overcame my squeamishness, and I ordered the fried pig ear. Fooditka had to have the rabbit liver mousse bruschetta, and we split an order of the poutine. For a cocktail, I ordered the Pimm's cup, which was the bartender's choice for happy hour.
Fried Pig Ear - I like pig. I like fried. I like ears. Well, that last part I wasn't too sure about, but I figured, two out of the three, I may as well give it a shot. The dish certainly looked very appetizing; a perfectly fried, deep brown color with a wonderful outer texture and a creamy pink sauce for dipping. The first bite wasn't what I was expecting. The outside had that great crunch, but the ear itself had a pretty gummy, sticky texture that kind of surprised me. The flavors were nice though, and I couldn't quite decide if I was grossed out by it, so I took another bite. Still strange, but less so, and this time I put the creamy mayo on it. By the third bite, I was hooked. I now eat three pig ears a day as part of a weird and balanced diet; I'm eating one right now in fact.
Rabbit Liver Mousse Bruschetta - This was Fooditka's choice, and I only tasted a little bit of it. I've never been a fan of liver mousse, and in all honesty, I was still a little shell-shocked from my first two bites of pig ear to give it a real attempt. I will say the bit I had was very creamy and rich, with an interesting, if not exactly appetizing flavor, but that's just me. Fooditka enjoyed it quite a bit from what I could tell and I'd say that if you like that sort of thing, you will enjoy it also.
Poutine - Lincoln's poutine was a little on the fancy side as well with root vegetables, fontina, and a nice piece of pancetta complementing the french fries and gravy. Overall it was a very tasty dish, and a little less exotic than the other two dishes we chose. I enjoyed it, although I would say that the french fries themselves were a little limp for me; I prefer a nice crispy fry.
Pimm's Cup - I thought the drink was tasty overall, but to say it packed a wallop would be overstating things quite a bit. As our friend Rollston put it, it was pretty watered down and weak. If I had one complaint about Lincoln, it would be in the cocktail department. I will say I was torn between ordering the bartender's choice cocktail and a glass of the house red which was a Portuguese blend according to the waiter. Next time I'll just go with the vino.
Service and Cost:
One note about the service; they automatically added a 20% gratuity onto the bill, possibly because we were a party of six. Normally when gratuity is added onto my bill, it's around 18% and I say something like "Well, that's kind of presumptuous, but Ha! Their loss, because I would have tipped 20%..." On its face, I'd say adding a 20% gratuity is very presumptuous, except in this case, the waitstaff definitely earned it. So essentially, they tipped themselves exactly what I would have tipped them anyway but they took the decision out of the patron's hand, and simply delivered exceptional service. Our waiter was very nice and patient as we hemmed and hawed over all of our different choices, and his partner was lovely as well every time she brought out a dish. They were happy to answer any and all questions, but weren't overbearing or pushy.
As far as the cost, including drinks, and a 20% tip, our party got out of there for about $22.00 per person. It was definitely a pricier happy hour than some other places in town, but ultimately worth it for the atmosphere and interesting variety of food.
2.75 Mmmms (minus .25 for the sub par cocktail effort)
Lincoln Restaurant - 3808 N. Williams Ave, Portland OR, 97227